Violence, Compensation, and Settler Colonialism: Adjudicating Claims of Indian Residential School Abuse Through the Independent Assessment Process

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Petoukhov, Konstantin




Under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) was established to provide financial compensation for sexual and physical abuse that took place in Indian Residential Schools - boarding schools designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian settler society. In my dissertation I centre my analysis on settler colonial power to investigate how the IAP, which I theorize as a response to and a product of settler colonial violence, constitutes survivors of abuse and how it is simultaneously constituted by survivors' agency. I explore how various actors within the IAP, including lawyers, adjudicators, and health support workers, engage in performative labour that mobilizes discourses of victimization and victimhood to construct representations of survivors' experiences through hierarchies and ordering mechanisms. I argue that the IAP constitutes a settler colonial legal process that inflicts violence on survivors, revictimizes and disempowers them, and perpetuates settler colonial denial. I also evaluate the compensation chart, which is used by IAP lawyers and adjudicators to calculate IAP awards, as a discursive tool that transvalues abuse and harm for money and guides survivors' interpretations of their experiences. Finally, I examine how survivors mobilize agency and engage in transgressive politics that resist the settler colonial logics of the IAP, challenge the scope of the individual financial compensation model, and re-establish themselves as Indigenous subjects.






Carleton University

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